The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting

…and What We Should Do about It

Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

I have never been much of Star Wars fan (please don’t unsubscribe), so when my student hit me this quote in the middle of a conversation about morality, my reaction was little more than an eye-roll. Fortunately, I was able to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi may have been strong with the force, but he was weak with philosophy, especially considering that his statement was absolute.

Consequently, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about the nature of morality.

It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.

Now, Batman? I can appreciate Batman. So, when a student threw that one at me, I was a bit more receptive. As it turns out, much of the stress this student felt due to his underperformance in school was prompted more by fiction than fact.

As a result, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about identity and accountability.

In both situations, fictional characters had given these young people more answers to life’s big questions than any of the adults in their lives had. I was not surprised. If you are, you should know, this is typical.

Here’s the thing…

Our young people’s lives are more often than we would like to admit guided by the culture that surrounds them more than the adults that raise them.

So, what can we do about it?

We first need to recognize two facts: young people are asking questions, and they are getting answers. The question is, from whom are they getting those answers?

We then need to develop a strategy to answer their questions properly, meaningfully, and—most importantly—Biblically.    Continue reading “The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting”

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5 Ways to Disciple Your Kids this Summer

Being a Christian parent and parenting Christianly are two different things. The Bible is replete with stories of notably faithful people who have notoriously unfaithful children. So, what does it mean to parent Christianly? That is, what is the Biblical pattern in parenting?

More books have been written to answer that question than any mom or dad could read in a lifetime. They range from the practical to the theoretical, from the philosophical to the psychological. And yet, with each curveball our kids throw at us, it seems like another one needs to be written.

Whatever the approach, a book on parenting Christianly is only as good as it is Biblical, and the more Biblical it is the more there seems to be a dominant theme:

Christian parenting means discipleship.

Chap Bettis makes the case this way in his book The Disciple-Making Parent:

What method did Jesus use to develop his disciples? For three years, he lived with them, taught them, trained them, tested them, and quizzed them. They matured by observing his life, his preaching, and his miracles. After his resurrection, it was time for them to go and do the same. Does that not sound like the job of a parent? He has given us little ones. We live together and learn together so that one day, they too will go out from us as humble, lifelong learners and followers of the risen Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.

On top of whatever is involved in raising a child into an adult, for Christian parents, there is the added eternal weight of raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

Throughout the Bible, we see this intentional development of children has always been God’s intended pattern.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-6 God expresses the foundational doxology of his relationship with his people. He commands his words to be instilled in their hearts. The very next verse, God with the type of “thou shalt” insistence that only God can claim, he commands:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

The goal of Christian parenting is to produce followers of Christ. We are disciples making disciples. We say to our biological children what Paul said to his spiritual children, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

So, here’s the thing…

What about this summer? For many, summer is a great opportunity to spend more time with family than other busier seasons of life. We Christian parents ought to capitalize on that time. Here are some suggestions on how to do so. Continue reading “5 Ways to Disciple Your Kids this Summer”

6 Things I Hope My Graduating Students Know

christian apologetics theology culture graduation

As a high school teacher, I have seen ten classes of seniors graduate. It is a great joy in my life to see them grow and move on to bigger and better things. I have kept in touch with many and have become close friends with several. I thank God for the memories I have collected over the years.

Every year, around graduation time, I become reflective. I know what I have taught them, but what have they learned? I know what they were given, but what are they taking away? I see how they have grown, but are they where they need to be?

After all I have said to them, have I said everything that needs to be said?

My answers to those questions are more satisfactory some years than others. However, there are things that I hope every student takes away every year. In all the things they have learned, I hope they know these. Continue reading “6 Things I Hope My Graduating Students Know”

Why: A Short History

Asking why is a habit that is near and dear to all our hearts. It’s one of those things that is simply a part of being human.

At every age level, we ask why.

My six-year-old son, like every six-year-old, asks why about everything just out of sheer curiosity. It never gets old…to him.

I’ve noticed the teenagers I teach ask why about everything. However, it is out of a genuine concern for understanding and with a pure commitment to respect for authority. (They also often ask me why I’m so sarcastic.)

We adults look at teenagers and ask why. Just why?

By the way, teenagers need not resent that statement. Every adult has had that moment where they looked back in time at themselves. We remember something we said, something we wore, something we did, or something we did to our hair, and we ask ourselves why.

Many why questions we have in life are much more imperative in nature. These are the questions about who we are as people, what we ought to believe, how we ought to live. Perhaps the most important questions we will ever ask concern our identity as Christians.

But, here’s the thing…

It is precisely those questions of eternal importance which we so often avoid. We hear a why brought to conversations about our beliefs and we fall back, not willing to see where those conversations may lead.

The Bible, however, exposes this as more than a bad habit. It is disobedience of the most dangerous sort. We are commanded to “be ready always to give an answer” to every why. Continue reading “Why: A Short History”

Is Inherited Belief Inherently False?

Five problems with believing that it is

An idea has made its way from the halls of academia onto the pages of bestselling books and highly-followed blogs. The idea is that a person’s religious beliefs are largely determined by the culture in which that person lives. That is to say, religion is culturally conditioned. On a societal level, families are pressured by way of politics or economics to conform to a religious norm. On a personal level, children are pressured by way of indoctrination to conform. Many conclude, therefore, that religious belief is generally not so much about finding truth or trusting God, as much as it is about brainwashing and fitting in.

In his book The God Delusion, Dr. Richard Dawkins explained it this way:

If you are religious at all, it is overwhelmingly probable that your religion is that of your parents. If you were born in Arkansas and you think Christianity is true and Islam false, knowing full well that you would think the opposite if you had been born in Afghanistan, you are the victim of childhood indoctrination.[1]

Many people in many places have addressed this issue, but their arguments always seem to boil down to two main objections:

Continue reading “Is Inherited Belief Inherently False?”

Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 3)

Previously, we have considered the cultural and spiritual realities that our young people face. In this final installment, I would like to suggest some personal considerations when talking to our young people about their worldviews.

So, how do we go about the task of talking to our young people about their worldviews?

Personal Considerations

We must study and pray for preparation, and we must teach and live for application Continue reading “Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 3)”

Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 2)

Previously, we considered the generational realities facing our young people and how those realities affect the way they view the world. Next, I would like to discuss two spiritual realities that should shape our conversations with our young people regarding their worldviews.

What is the ultimate nature of the problems our young people face, and what should we consider the solution to those problems to be?

Spiritual Considerations

It is easy to get bogged down with all of the statistics and studies being done regarding our young people. What is often overlooked is the spiritual nature of all that they face. As different as their world is, the ultimate problem has not really changed. Nor has the solution.

Continue reading “Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 2)”